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MotoGP Aragon #2: Lowes calm approach paying off in 'crazy' 2020

This season has, so far, seen stellar performances from Sam Lowes, with four consecutive podiums and two wins in the most recent appearances but it has also been one of the most confusing and different, set against the continuing pandemic, the restrictions and safety measures in place, back-to-back races and continuing challenges with travel, bubbles and the normality of family life.

Despite the obvious difficulties, the 30-year-old has certainly been approaching the races, his current championship aspirations and the demands of the triple-header weekends with a more mature, calm and consistent outlook, thanks in part to his Marc VDS team, and it’s one he intends to carry through to Aragon’s second visit this weekend.

“It’s obviously a different style of season than the last few of years and the start of the season was difficult for me , now I just try to keep the same approach every weekend - the last three or four weekends have obviously been good - but even since Jerez I’ve been quite competitive, felt good each weekend and kept the same approach and I’ll continue to keep that approach," said Lowes.


"With the position I’m in now with the championship, it’s normal to think about it because it’s impossible not to but no, I’ll just keep doing the same thing, in the races get as many points as I can and keep working hard.

“It’s a strange one, it’s hard to know what’s going to happen with the virus, with the pandemic, I think the bubble is going to help and as far as I’m aware it looks like we will get to see out the rest of the season but it’s hard to know.

"Obviously if you think each race is going to be the last race it’s always hard because you can put a bit more on the line but hopefully it goes to the end, it all goes as scheduled and we’ll keep doing the same thing, keep trying to continue the run of podiums and fighting at the front and doing the best job we can each weekend.

“It’s a little bit strange, a little bit different but I think even with the difference it’s still hard to change your approach because there should be four races to go so you have to work on that and that allowance of points because if you approach every one as the last one is also not the best thing to do.

“I’ve not been back to the UK since June. I’ve driven to the majority of the races so as not to be in the airports too much, I’ve not taken a normal flight yet. Obviously I’m lucky in some respects, my fiancée and baby live in Italy so I can drive quite easily to most of the races but now it is getting more complicated.

"I’ve seen that this weekend another rider has got the virus and even with [Tony] Arbolino - in the end he didn’t have the virus but just because he was around someone who did [he was unable to compete] - it’s very complicated so I think I’ll just be driving for the next few weeks just to stay away from the airports."

Lowes’ consistency and calm approach saw the Brit battle for the lead in the opening Aragon race before settling back into a comfortable but threatening second position behind Marco Bezzecchi, before the Sky VR46 rider ultimately fell on the penultimate lap, gifting him the victory. What does he think has made the difference from previous years?

“I think now I’m quite strong in a lot of the sessions over the weekend and the team has helped me to build the weekend in a good way so I am more aware of what I can and can’t do. Bezzecchi was real strong in the race, I got to about five laps to go and I’d tried to keep the pressure on but I was also not going to risk everything just to win that race because I’m on a good run of form and I’ve leant a little.

"I was doing the same pace but to go faster and to pass, would have been a bit risky. There were a couple of points on the track that he was stronger than me and in the past it would have been ‘pass the guy in front at all costs’ now it’s more ‘do the pace that I’ve been doing all weekend, keep consistent, do what you can and if that’s second, then take it'.


"Obviously it’s not nice to see guys crash in front but I’ve done that a lot in the past, led races and crashed out of podium places so it’s good to learn from that.

One element, however, he still needs to work on is his performance at race starts and the team have been working further to adapt the clutch and rear brake set up that the number 22 has been using this season.

“My starts have been quite difficult this year, it’s the first season I’ve been using a lever rear brake, so this is in the position where my clutch would normally be.

"For this reason my clutch was really high and I was getting quite bad starts because the feeling was not natural for me, so now we’ve got a different lever that is in a better position for the start but then when I let go, the clutch goes up so that I have space for the rear brake - this is something that has improved my actual riding.


"The rear brake is really helping me so we need to have the clutch high but the starts were so bad, so now this [set-up] brings the clutch as low as possible to get off the start and then move out of the way. It’s good for the team, they’ve done a really good job in bringing that, my starts are still not perfect but they are getting better.

This weekend sees him facing another battle at Aragon after dominating the previous outing with both pole position and the race win. With the forecast predicting a more stable three days, does the prospect of a return create apprehension or will it just be more of the same come Sunday?

“In Moto2, we had the best conditions [last weekend] because we were riding late, 11:30-12:00 every day so our conditions weren’t bad, a little in FP1 but the rest were quite good. This weekend, Dunlop have brought a softer tyre so that will bring something into the mix, some guys will potentially try and race it, we will check tomorrow afternoon if it can do the distance but again, a different weekend, and the grid will be a bit tighter.

"As you’ve seen in the race last weekend, it was the top four or five guys then there was a big gap, I think sixth place was 20 seconds behind, I don’t think you’ll see that the second week, I think it will be a lot tighter.

“The first thing we need to understand is the tyres, the track condition looks like it will be less cold at night so every session is more-or-less good for working so I think we’ll see a lot closer race.

“I think we’ve all learnt a little [in regards to the back-to-back races], also in MotoGP you can see this, the people change, they analyse the race from the week before, change to a different direction, also with Dunlop bringing the different tyres like they did in Misano, that brings something else into the equation.

“I am just trying to make each weekend a new weekend, because if I sat here and went ‘I won last week so I’m going to be fast this week, I was pole position so I can just sit back’ you’re not going to be as quick. I just start afresh, with my plans for the weekend, debriefs with the team, like it’s the first weekend - look through the data, check where on the track I can improve - so my plan is always individual weekends and I think that is helping me, otherwise you get to the second weekend and you don’t quite put your foot on the gas as much and you get left behind.

“It’s definitely strange coming straight back to the same track, especially after a good result because, for me now, this weekend, unless I get pole and win - which will be hard to do two weeks in a row - it’s less of a weekend but then on the other side of that there’ll be guys like Marini, Bezzecchi, Di Giannantonio who didn’t have a good race and will be coming from the opposite, to go forward, so it’s just about managing that and understanding but it is a different feeling to a normal season, that’s for sure.”

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